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Enchanted Hills Camp

Our Verizon Volunteers

Our Verizon Volunteers

By Allyson Ferrari, Volunteer Manager

Five people with shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrows moving wood chips around. The back of the Hogan and two of the Lakeside Cabins are visible in the background.
On Thursday, August 4, six volunteers from Verizon Media came to volunteer for half a day at Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind (EHC). Despite the warm day promised by the weather app, they got to work with enthusiasm. The morning was spent shoveling out a mound of wood chips by the Cook’s Cabin to get them level and spread out.

This small but mighty group of volunteers accomplished quite a lot before their half day of volunteering concluded. While the spreading of wood chips might feel like a mundane and tedious task, they completed a crucial project for our camp. An immediate gain is that there is now a clearer delineation between the roadway and the wood chip area, so that campers may recognize when they’re going “off roading” and thus have lost their course to the archery range or the nature trail. The spreading of the wood chips will also help in our constant fire abatement efforts. Wood chips smother any opportunity for weeds to grow, which often become dry and brittle in the summer and fall, making excellent fire fuel. While it is a small patch of land, every bit of fire abatement contributes to ensure that EHC may endure for many more generations to come.

Following the morning’s hot and hard work, Verizon volunteers hung out in the breezeway next to the Dining Hall and met some of the STEM and Music Campers who were gathered there for the week. Volunteer Linda told us all about her current kitchen projects; camper Aaronshowed us the work he and his band have put together for the next day’s concert; and staff member Jamey Gump invited the group to sample some of his honey made from Poison Oak Blossoms (it’s totally safe!). EHC Director Tony Fletcher Jamey, then showed us some of the Wappo artifacts that PG&E had discovered while clearing trees at Enchanted Hills Camp.

Verizon’s team gave a few hours and truly left their mark on . From all of us at EHC and the LightHouse, thank you for giving your time and we hope to welcome you back at EHC again soon! If you are part of a group, company or organization looking for an excellent volunteer opportunity, email us at volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org.

Camper Jane Reflects on Adult Camp at EHC

Camper Jane Reflects on Adult Camp at EHC

Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) kicked off the first six weeks of summer with four fun-filled camp sessions for our youngest and eldest campers. We opened our cabin doors in early June to our first bunch of campers at Deafblind Camp. Our LightHouse Little Learners and their families made their EHC debut the following weekend and began what is sure to be a new summer tradition. We were delighted to welcome back our campers 21 and older for the first Adult Camp session since the summer of 2019.  First-time campers and longtime friends made the most of their time in our enchanted redwood retreat: hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, crafting, creating, playing, and laughing. We look forward to hosting more campers in August.

Ever since EHC was founded by Rose Resnick (blind activist, educator, and leader) in 1950, LightHouse has been proud to provide a happy and blind-positive environment where blind and low vision people of all ages can grow, explore, and connect – with nature, with each other, with themselves – but the true magic of Enchanted Hills Camp is our campers and the value each and every one of them brings to EHC. Camper Jane reflected on her time at camp this summer:

One Tap at a Time

Thank you, Rose Resnick, for your visionary spirit. You aimed beyond boundaries. You forged pathways of lifelines and lifetime connections.

You and I met back in the 1970s. You, the persistent, passionate, and sincere woman who wrote and delivered her 60-second advocacy speeches on behalf of the blind every few months on KGO-TV, Channel 7 in San Francisco. Me, the Assistant Director of Community Affairs handled the “Speak Freely” community messages. Your name was memorable, as was your demeanor: gentle, kind, and articulate. I laugh to myself now as I realize how routinely we had always prepared hand- written cue cards for each guest to read and deliver their messages. And, of course, now I realize your hands were reading braille notes!

Fast forward to today, nearly 50 years later. I’m basking in the afterglow of experiencing Enchanted Hills Camp 2022… the magnitude and magnificence of sincere love, care, compassion, kindness, support, and camaraderie.

Here are a few of my lasting impressions….
—Priceless. Seen and acknowledged as an asset. Not a liability.
—Poetry Workshop poem: Same. Same. You. Me.
—Beyond imagination. The wholly huge support of our young counselors. Not a moment to fear, knowing their gentle voices, guiding, and helping hands, and support were always nearby.
—According to the accordion, and tunes of Venus and Mars life abounds with upright and downright jamming music, spontaneity, twilight zones, and picnics!
—Wouldn’t it be wonderful to greet morning light as birds do… bursting into perfect pitch and song? Greeting the new day with sounds of joy and delight! I’m afraid of what’s ahead…
—Been too long since I’ve freely laughed and smiled and clapped hands, stomped my feet, hooted and hollered, listened to live music and simply shared comfort and joy with others!
— “Something” in the way Dylan and Hanna harmonize and “wOOooooOO!” Believing in HOW. NOW.
—First time holding a bow and arrow. It won’t be the last. New revelation: it’s a meditative art. Focus. Hold deep breath. Extend reach. Let go.
—At the chapel, outside finds inside. One strike on Bill’s meditative bowl. Maddie makes it sing. With mallet, she traces the rim again and again.
—Thanks, Brent. You illuminated life’s orientation beyond South, West, North, East. Adding upwards to Sky, downwards to earth, and hands covering our hearts completing the connection to ourselves.
—Rose knew. Rose knows. No one could be finer than Tony as the guiding heart, mind, body, and soul of Enchanted Hills Camp.

We don’t walk alone. We hold our heads high. We’re less afraid of the dark. We walk on with the tap of our white canes, guide dogs, human guides and enchanted hearts and souls graced by nature with Rose.

EHC is the Place to Be for the Littlest Ones: A Recap

EHC is the Place to Be for the Littlest Ones: A Recap

Photo Caption 1: A Little Learner seated in a wheelchair makes lemonade by pressing a lever to squeeze lemon juice with the help of her older sister and teacher Jeri Hart.

Photo Caption 2:  A Little Learner plays in the wading pool with her sister as their mom cools her feet. The girls wear matching flowered swim shirts and all have the biggest joyful smiles.

Photo Caption 3: A Little Learner wearing pink glasses sits cross legged between her parents in a paddle boat as they enjoy a boat ride on the lake.  All wear blue life-jackets and smile, and dad is making a peace sign.

Photo Caption 4: Twin Little Learners wearing sunglasses get a lakeside fishing lesson from EHC staffer Jamey Gump. The sister holds the fishing pole and the brother looks on, waiting for his turn.

Photos by Emmalaine Berry Photography

Editor’s Note: LightHouse Little Learners Camp ran from Friday, June 10 – Sunday, June 12

By Pam Chapin, Little Learners Program Director

“Good Morning, lake!” exclaimed the happy toddler as she followed the path to the Dining Hall for breakfast at Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC). One hand explored the lakeside fence, and the other clutched the stuffed bunny that would spend the weekend at her side when our Little Learners and their families headed up Mt. Veeder in Napa to experience the magic of camp among the redwoods. As the weekend unfolded, there were so many memorable moments as families relaxed together, shared new experiences, and built lasting relationships. There was a sense of community, of belonging, and as one parent stated, it was “transformational”.

Families arrived on Friday, settled into their cabins, and gathered together for a welcome reception. As parents relaxed and chatted, toddlers and siblings made lemonade and had snacks. When a red flag warning due to the Napa winds changed our plans for gathering around the campfire, families happily gathered lakeside instead for songs and silly fun with the camp counselors. We learned about the rich history of EHC and its founder Rose Resnick, the efforts to rebuild and preserve the landscape after the 2017 fires, and the vision for expanding camp into a year-round retreat.

Saturday was brimming with activity as families explored camp, went paddle boating and fishing, and gathered around the cool wading pools where splashes and giggles could be heard. Everyone explored at their own pace and toddlers could be seen resting among dog guides. Children touched the natural textures of moss, lavender, and dried orange slices and made them into a suncatcher collage or viewed them on a lightbox. Birdfeeders were made from pine cones, sunflower butter and birdseed. Children emerged from the art room wearing golden paper crowns. Our friends from California Deafblind Services brought a tie dye activity to share, and soon there were colorful patterns on bandanas, shirts, onesies, and even socks blowing in the breeze to dry.

Families gathered for meals between activities, and at dinner children frosted cupcakes they had baked that afternoon. The day culminated in a talent show that included such festivities as singing, ukulele playing, a somersault, pompom shaking, dancing the Macarena, and a drum circle.

Heading down the hill on Sunday, listening to the rustle of the redwoods, our hearts were full. We can’t wait for next time!

Aquatics Program Area Leader

Position:                     Aquatics Program Area Leader

Reports to:                 Camp Director

Classification:            Non-Exempt

WC Class:                 

General Description:

The aquatics program area leader is responsible for preparing and implementing safe, fun, and appropriate programs for the blind and visually impaired children and adults. He/she will coordinate and oversee all camp aquatics activities.

Examples of Activities include:

  • Swimming
  • Aqua aerobics
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • All camp swims
  • Other

Qualifications:

  • 18 years of age
  • Some college preferred
  • Lifeguard certified
  • Minimum of one year in and educational setting
  • Experience working with persons who are blind/visually impaired or disabled preferred
  • Experience supervising support staff preferred
  • Knowledge of the rehabilitation process for persons who are disabled preferred
  • Current First Aid and CPR certifications
  • Knowledge of Braille and/or sign language preferred

Examples of Duties:

  • Plan, direct, and supervise a safe and fun waterfront program
    • Supervise classes and activities in aquatics areas
    • Schedule a minimum of three classes for each session
    • Schedule teaching assistants from available counselors and volunteers
    • Evaluate the success of the aquatics programs and activities
  • Ensure that camp staff and campers know and follow safety procedures
    • Train staff in their responsibilities in the aquatics areas
    • Ensure campers and staff follow safety procedures
  • Manage the physical facilities and equipment in the aquatics program areas
    • Set up aquatics areas
    • Teach and monitor proper use of equipment
    • Conduct a daily check of the area and equipment for safety, cleanliness, and good repair
    • Ensure that the aquatics program area equipment and supplies are inventoried and steps are taken to replace them in a timely manner
  • Participate enthusiastically in all camp activities, planning and leading those as assigned
  • Participate as a member of the camp staff team to deliver and supervise evening programs, special events, overnights, and other all-camp functions
  • Assist with camper placements in classes and with living assignments when necessary
  • Evaluate volunteers, counselors in training (CIT), and counselors throughout the summer
  • Act as a camp counselor when necessary
  • Attend and participate in weekly staff meetings
  • Other duties as assigned

Physical Aspect:

  • Must be willing to live on camp premises
  • Must be able to lift 70 pounds
  • Ability to enforce safety and emergency procedures
  • Ability to identify and respond to environmental and other hazards related to the activity
  • Physical ability to respond appropriately to situation requiring first aid
  • Must be able to assist campers in an emergency (fire, evacuation, illness or injury)
  • Possess the endurance required to maintain constant supervision of campers

Agency Expectations of Employees:

As employees, we should:

  • Read, understand and adhere to all agency policies and procedures
  • Conduct ourselves in a professional manner on and off the job, knowing that we are representatives of LightHouse
  • Perform all job responsibilities
  • Maintain a positive and respectful attitude toward everyone
  • Communicate regularly and appropriately with our supervisors and colleagues within our own departments
  • Able to effectively communicate orally and in writing
  • Demonstrate efficient time management and the ability to prioritize our assignments
  • Consistently report to work on time and be ready to begin performing our assigned duties and responsibilities
  • Work productively
  • Continue to learn and communicate a blindness-positive philosophy based on current best practices in the field
  • Maintain the confidentiality of campers and staff relating to issues such as health, behaviors, and other situations that may arise
  • Be culturally sensitive

Working Conditions:

LightHouse provides equal opportunity to all, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, religious or political affiliation, age, or sexual orientation.

All employees at LightHouse are hired for an indefinite and unspecified duration and consequently, no employee is guaranteed employment for a specified length of time. Employment is at the mutual consent of the employee and LightHouse. Accordingly, either the employee or LightHouse can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause (“employment at will”). 

Submitting an Application:

For ease of accessibility, kindly submit your cover letter and résumé as Word attachments (no .PDFs please) and employment application (downloads in a Word document) to hr@lighthouse-sf.org, using the job title as your subject line. To fill out the application, please enable editing in the document. We will not consider videos or hyperlinks to online profiles in lieu of the requested format. Due to time constraints, we apologize for being unable to acknowledge all interest that may be shown in each position. No third-party solicitations, please. We sincerely appreciate your thoughtful consideration during this process.

Maintenance Grounds Technician Landscaper

POSITION:             Maintenance Grounds Technician Landscaper

REPORTS TO:        Maintenance Manager, EHC

STATUS:                     Non – Exempt

LOCATION:               Napa, CA

WORK ARRANGEMENT:           In-person

Application Deadline:              Open until filled

JOB PURPOSE

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, headquartered in downtown San Francisco, is looking for a Full-Time Maintenance Grounds Technician (MGT), to work at our 311-acre resort, Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa, California.  The MGT will perform skilled work in the maintenance and care of the natural environment at our camp in Napa. The focus will be primarily on landscaping. This will include the upkeep of the grounds and landscape.

We are searching for a talented and dedicated landscaper to join our team. You will perform a range of general lawn maintenance duties including applying fertilizers, maintaining the landscape design, removing weeds and dead plants, and supervising repairs. With over 300 acres, fire abatement and knowledge of poisonous plants is needed as well.

As the landscaper, you will ensure the growth and vibrancy of our plants, flowers, lawn, and garden structures. The ideal candidate will be creative, with excellent problem-solving and organizational skills.

QUALIFICATIONS

Education or equivalent:

  • High School degree or GED equivalent

EXPERIENCE

A minimum of 2 years’ experience in a landscaping or grounds-keeping role

The LightHouse welcomes nontraditional applicants and applicants with diverse backgrounds and experience

The MGT will perform regular and directed grounds and landscape maintenance. This will require experience in using mowing, trimming, edging and other landscaping tools.

Although the position will have regular hours, occasional morning or evening duties do require an on-site presence. As a result, this position is accompanied with an offer of free onsite housing for the technician. This is specified in our Housing Agreement which will be discussed during the interview process.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

  • Must be able to safely operate maintenance equipment including lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and hedge trimmers and other tools and equipment
  • Strong knowledge of pest management and basic lawn maintenance
  • High attention to detail with excellent organizational skills
  • Ability to sit at a desk and perform computer-intensive work for long periods of time; operate standard office equipment

The Maintenance Ground Technician will be expected to:

  • Demonstrate Physical stamina and the ability to work outdoors for long periods of time
  • Requires the ability to lift and carry groundskeeping supplies and equipment weighing up to 50 pounds on a frequent basis and up to 100 pounds on an occasional basis
  • Prolonged walking or standing, and frequent bending, stooping, kneeling, and reaching daily
  • Requires a full range of physical motion to operate manual, electrical and/or gasoline-powered groundskeeping equipment and machines
  • Requires the ability to access facilities and areas which may only be accessible by climbing stairs or by climbing ladders to a height of 20 feet (e.g., for tree trimming)
  • Must be able to move throughout assigned areas, as the work is performed primarily out-of-doors, year-round
  • The MGT must be able to work outdoors for long periods, including occasional work in rain, cold, heat and windy conditions

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Fire Abatement
  • The Maintenance Grounds Technician will place a strong focus on Fire Abatement duties as a high priority for this role. Those duties will include:
    • String line trimming
    • Chainsaw to log splitting
    • Chipping, debris clean up
  • Landscape
  • The Maintenance Grounds Technician will upkeep the landscape
    • These duties include mowing, trimming, tree maintenance, edging of landscape
    • Thinning and cleaning flower beds and other grounds by hand or utilizing proper tools and equipment; and setting up, adjusting, repairing and maintenance of these tools and equipment
  • Apply pesticides to remove harmful insects such as mosquitos, wasps, and ticks
  • Conduct general maintenance duties such as cleaning walkways, fixing fountains, and other duties
  • Apply fertilizer to help enhance growth
  • Take out weeds and dead plants
  • Trim overgrown limbs, hedges, and leaves
  • Uphold the landscaping design and ensure plant growth
  • Plant new decorative bushes, flowers, plants, and shrubs
  • Supervise maintenance repairs to equipment, landscape structures, outdoor furniture, and walkways
  • Advise clients on how to look after the landscape
  • Coordinate with garden designers and landscape architects to ensure the garden meets the client’s expectations
  • Janitorial work that includes but is not limited to:
    • Plunging toilets
    • Cleaning and sanitizing of Restroom floors, toilets, sinks, and showers
    • Replace toilet paper in bathrooms as needed
    • Collect all trash, including trash from dog refuse collection bins
  • The MGT should possess a valid California Driver’s license and a willingness to drive camp vehicles
  • Possession of a Class B Driver’s License would be a plus for the Maintenance Grounds Technician
  • Possession or willingness to train to get water treatment certification is highly desirable

Other Duties:  Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice.

WORKING CONDITIONS

LightHouse is an equal opportunity employer.  LightHouse policy and the law prohibit discrimination and harassment based on an individual’s race, ancestry, religion or religious creed (including religious dress and grooming practices), color, age (40 and over), sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national origin (including language use restrictions), marital status, medical condition (including cancer and genetic characteristics), physical or mental disability (including HIV and AIDS), military or veteran status, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions, denial of Family and Medical Care leave, height and weight, or any other classification protected by federal, state, or local laws, regulations, or ordinances.  Our policy and the law prohibit co-workers, third parties, supervisors, and managers from engaging in such conduct.

LightHouse personnel are employed on an at-will basis.  Employment at-will means that the employment relationship may be terminated, with or without cause and with or without advance notice at any time by the employee or the Agency.

We strive to maintain a scent-free environment and a drug-free workplace.  Employees are expected to behave in accordance with these objectives.

All employees at LightHouse are hired for an indefinite and unspecified duration and consequently, no employee is guaranteed employment for a specified length of time. Employment is at the mutual consent of the employee and LightHouse. Accordingly, either the employee or LightHouse can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause (“employment at will”).

HOW TO APPLY

After reviewing the complete Job Description located at our website at: https://lighthouse-sf.org/about/careers/, please complete an application as well as a cover letter and résumé as word processing attachments, (no PDFs please).

Please submit those word documents to hr@lighthouse-sf.org. Please include the job title, Maintenance Grounds Technician Landscaper, in the subject line. We will not consider videos or hyperlinks to online profiles. Due to time constraints we will only respond to complete submissions. Thanks for your understanding.

Over a Thousand New Trees and Shrubs Planted at Enchanted Hills Over the Past Three-Day Weekend

Over a Thousand New Trees and Shrubs Planted at Enchanted Hills Over the Past Three-Day Weekend

Over this past Martin Luther King holiday weekend LightHouse and Enchanted Hills Camp hosted a three-day tree planting event. Volunteers joined EHC staff members and supporters—including Dan Kistler, our new lead in maintenance and landscaping at Enchanted Hills Camp—in planting over 1,000 trees and shrubs. From Saturday to Monday, over 60 volunteers of all ages got their hands dirty planting countless small plants and shrubs, as well as redwoods, maples, and monkey trees, just to name a few.

Two groups involved with the design of the New Enchanted Hills brought many dozens of employee volunteers to get their hands dirty and make a difference. LightHouse wants to thank the offices of Perkins-Will and RHAA Landscape Architects. We expect that planting a thousand trees will be an ongoing way to give back each MLK Day for years to come.

“We had a magical time with all of the groups of volunteers,” Dan Kistler tells the LightHouse Lately. “We were able to plant a little over a thousand trees and other species of plants to give back to the forest. I want to give a special thanks to everyone from LightHouse who helped out here, not only to make this possible, but to share this incredible experience.”

We are so excited for our campers to check out the beautiful new green additions to camp when our cabin doors re-open this summer. With that said, it’s almost time for EHC Summer 2022 registration! Keep an eye on your inboxes for more information about camp registration, or visit the Enchanted Hills Camp website for updates, information, and details.

Come and plant some trees at Enchanted Hills Camp

Come and plant some trees at Enchanted Hills Camp

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr Day on Monday, January 17, LightHouse and Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa are hosting a special tree-planting event! We have an ambitious goal of planting 1,000 trees and shrubs over the course of the weekend and would love your help.

We have places available on Saturday, January 15 and Sunday, January 16, and tree-planting will be from 9 am – 2:30 pm. RSVPs are required for each volunteer (not each household.) You can sign up to volunteer at:

Lunch will be provided to all volunteers who RSVP.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide transportation for this event.

A few requirements:

  • All volunteers are required to be age 14 or over
  • All volunteers are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a negative COVID19 test taken within the past 72 hours.
    • If you are fully vaccinated, we strongly recommend getting tested within 72 hours of arrival.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7320.

We look forward to a great weekend and to seeing you and your green thumbs at Enchanted Hills Camp on this upcoming long weekend!

Ring in the Season with the EHC Alumni Holiday Concert on December 10

Ring in the Season with the EHC Alumni Holiday Concert on December 10

For the second year in a row friends and supporters of Enchanted Hills Camp wish to show their appreciation for the LightHouse community by hosting a free virtual EHC Alumni holiday concert. Musicians who have attended camp sessions, music camp or been a camp counselor or volunteer will join LightHouse and EHC staffers to celebrate the spirit of EHC past, present and future.

Camp Director Tony Fletcher says, “Our virtual concert was so well-received last year that the performers wanted to return. These concerts are important for people who want to share their work and it’s the musicians’ way of saying thank you for donating on Giving Tuesday.”

Says Rachel Grider, who is blind, about EHC, “I worked as a counselor during the summer of 2013. It was an unforgettable experience to work with so many fantastic colleagues and campers. I saw firsthand the difference camp made in the lives of campers as they participated in activities and formed friendships. It is a pleasure for me to help camp by performing in this concert.”

Other featured EHC alumni performers include Derek and Shane Dittmar (shanedittmar.com), Marina Sandoval-Lintz (marianasandovaldiaz.com) and Masceo Williams (masceo.net).

When: Friday, December 10 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm Pacific
Where: Enchanted Hills Camp Facebook page, no Facebook account is necessary to view the live-streamed concert

We can’t wait to share holiday music with you on the 10th!

Giving Tuesday is Coming! Tuesday After Thanksgiving You Can Make EHC More Inclusive

Giving Tuesday is Coming! Tuesday After Thanksgiving You Can Make EHC More Inclusive

Please join LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Enchanted Hills Camp on Tuesday, November 30 for Giving Tuesday, and help us meet our accessibility and sustainability goals!

This year the funds we raise on Giving Tuesday will go towards the purchase of two wheelchair accessible electric vehicle shuttles for Enchanted Hills Camp as a part of our larger vision to make EHC fully accessible and carbon neutral by 2030. The shuttles will be charged on site by our own solar array.

Donations will also go towards camperships to send 40 kids who are blind or have low vision to Enchanted Hills Camp next year.

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving that kicks off the charitable season and end-of-year giving, and harnesses the generosity of people from around the world to bring about real change to the communities they know and love.

This is a philanthropic movement that connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving. LightHouse joined the Giving Tuesday movement in 2016 and continues to receive many very generous gifts from our diverse group of donors, volunteers, staff, board members and friends.

Please take part in this year’s Giving Tuesday on (or before) November 30 and consider a gift to Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind. We sincerely thank Waymo for jump starting our 2021 Giving Tuesday with a very generous donation of $10,000.

Donate here to support LightHouse and Enchanted Hills Camp.

This Year Marked the Return of the YES Academy to EHC

This Year Marked the Return of the YES Academy to EHC

This summer, LightHouse was thrilled to bring back the Youth Employment Services (YES) Summer Academy. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and health and safety protocols, last year we ran the program virtually. This year we were back in person with a slightly re-designed program to accommodate the safety of our students and staff while still keeping the fun, interactive elements and activities we’ve always valued in the academy. Our participants spent this four-week program at Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) where the spacious and lush grounds allowed for safe, socially distanced outdoor instruction.

YES is a program designed to educate and prepare youth who are blind or have low vision ages 16 to 24 for a successful future, focusing primarily on employment and independent living skills. During the Summer Academy, our participants are given the opportunity to fill their summer with engaging and valuable pre-employment learning experiences, independent living training, employment readiness seminars, mentoring conversations, discussions about self-advocacy in equality and inclusion in the workplace, not to mention all the memorable social activities and building connections with friends and mentors.

The four weeks were broken down into goal-based themes. The first week was “Your Skills, Your Goals Bootcamp.” Week two focused on expanding employment knowledge and networking in the community. YES ended its program with workshops in learning to grow one’s resume and work experience in weeks three and four.

The students documented their experiences throughout these four weeks by writing blogs. First time participant, a young woman with low vision named Tatiana, reflected on her time at the YES Summer Academy.

“I’ve always said and knew I didn’t want to have to rely on my family, friends, and others to help me go on in life and do whatever it is I may need to do, but deep down there was always that worry of what seemed at the time to be an inevitable fact that I’d have no choice and I would need to come to terms with always needing some kind of reliance. However, after going through this program and learning and practicing what I have for the first time in my life, that thought and doubt is no longer there. I have confidence in knowing I will be able to go on in life confidently by myself.

“Not only has the program taught me new skills but it has given me a newly found hope and excitement. I’m not fully blind but I still struggle in places where visual problems are not noticed often. After staying at the camp where everyone is visually impaired it’s made me feel more accepted. I have never realized that the stereotypes used to describe the blind community are the farthest thing from true. I’ve been inspired and cannot wait to return to Enchanted Hills Camp and the YES Academy where I have learned that my vision does not define me.”

Another YES participant, Heaven, had the opportunity to gain work experience by working as Recreation Assistant at the Enchanted Hills Teen Camp session that was going on simultaneously with YES in the last weeks of the program.

“The first few days of my work experience as the Recreation Assistant, I observed how the Area Leader taught the campers what to do, and after that I led some of the activities. I learned more about Archery, and a new sport known as Disc Golf. I’ve learned many things through working this job, mainly how to talk to a large crowd of people. I met a lot of the campers and staff and learned about them as well. It is a very interactive job, which I like because it helps me be better at talking with other people. This job gave me skills I will be able to use in the future. It tested my communication skills, and ability to problem solve. It also tested my memorization skills, because I had to memorize people’s names and what order they were in for certain recreational activities. The experience was a good one, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to work this job. I love sports and now I have a way to teach them to other blind people, and a way to explain them if I ever need to. It was a valuable experience.”

YES offers different programs and workshops year-round. If you are or if you know any blind and low vision youth ages 16 to 24 who are interested in preparing for their future, you can contact Youth Programs Assistant, Daisy Soto, at DSoto@lighthouse-sf.org, or by calling 415-694-7328. LightHouse youth activities are not just summer only, but every month, all year long. Visit our Youth Programs department page on our website or check out our online calendar for upcoming events and programs.